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The Good German Hardcover – 1 Oct 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Oct 2001
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805064222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805064223
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.9 x 24.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,346,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Magnificent (Minette Walters)

Kanon writes for grown-ups, not for day-dreamers. That's why he is so good. (Allan Massie, THE SCOTSMAN)

Provocative, fully realised fiction that explores, as only fiction can, the reality of history as it is lived by individual men and women. (NEW YORK TIMES)

A story of wondrous humanity in the face of insane savagery (SPECTATOR) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

July 1945. The Allies are posturing amongst the ruins of Berlin and marking out their territory for what will be the boundaries of the Cold War. And no German admits to being a Nazi, especially those whose skills can be sold to one side or the other. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book has a murder investigation as its theme, but like all good crime books, that is a device to explore bigger themes. They don't get any bigger than in this story - what is guilt; why does a civilised society get sucked into genocide; does the justice of the victors obscure the real crimes because it is heavily influenced by self interest? These are just a few of the issues raised by Kanon. He addresses them using believable and varied characters. Many of the "baddies" are people you would enjoy meeting while many of the "goodies" have major flaws or past history which is very suspect.
I enjoyed this book more than most I have read in recent years. This is my first review on line - I've written it because I got such pleasure from this book!
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Format: Hardcover
"The Good German", by Joseph Kanon can be categorized by placement in a variety of genres, Thriller, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Love Story, and more. The work is certainly all of these, however I believe much more important is the study of twelve years of human behavior, presented within the context of events primarily following the close of The European phase of World War Two. I don't know that any other conflict has generated more literature than the one symbolized by the swastika, the word Holocaust, and the unprecedented Crimes Against Humanity Trials at Nuremberg. Superficially, the evil of the war is routinely placed with great ease. Even at this level it is hard to take issue with placing the blame on a man, the party he created, and the nation that joined that party, served in the SS, and made the crimes that took place possible. What happened when the fighting stopped, when the shooting war with The Axis ended, and the Cold War with The Soviet Union began? The latter had really begun prior to the first one ending.

The shades of gray that dominated the conduct of The Allies immediately following the end of hostilities, and the repercussions that would follow for decades, is brilliantly set side by side with conduct during the war. Mr. Kanon never minimizes any of the horror that took place; he questions none of the atrocities that were committed. He does bring post-war reality to his tale that cannot be said to match the actions of The Third Reich; he does however absolutely portray conduct on all sides, which traditional history would rather marginalize. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and while there were episodes of good versus evil, and events that were black and white, inconvenient shades of gray were everywhere.
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Format: Paperback
I thought this an excellent read, although I agree with other reviewers that it could have been a bit shorter without losing too much from the plot.

The picture created by the author of the time in Berlin immediately after the end of the war captures the confusion, betrayal and degredation that must have been an issue for millions. It does a lot to highlight that many who were victims in the war, also became victims of the peace and that the so called peace keepers were not always squeaky clean themselves, enusring that their own interests were foremost. Little is ever mentioned of the suffering that people endure in the immediate aftermath of a war but this book certainly depicts some of the harrowing circumstances that people had to live with in this time and how they tried to survive.

One criticism that I do have is that Lena, who has been brutally assaulted by the Russians when they arrived in Berlin and recently had an abortion, seems to make a miraculous recovery to resume her relationship with Jake. I can understand that this may be for the purpose of the book, but it is unlikely that this would happen in real-life.

Characterisation of the main protagonists in the book is good - I wonder how many of these characters, and how much of the storyline, will have to be left out of the film version.
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Format: Hardcover
The slow beginning is designed to immerse the reader in the atmosphere of the Berlin of the early after war months. It is July 1945 at the time of the Potsdam Conference. Kanon is known for his ability to take you virtually by the hand and to lead you through a place. Here, it is particularly dramatic: ruins, bombed out houses, roads blocked by rubble, empty spaces where, before, Berliners had lived - and where the protagonist himself had lived as a journalist.
His search through the ruins, the alleyways, intent on finding his love of the happier pre-war days is increasingly desparate. Is she still alive? Where would she be? Finding a person in those early after-war months in Germany was almost impossible; no records were available, the houses where they had lived often destroyed and no forwarding address - unless you got really lucky. Kanon's description of Berlin is accurate - based on visits to the modern Berlin and his in depth research of the Berlin of 1945 and the changes since then. You could easily use it as a tour guide of a different kind.
But, of course that is not the story. The story of the returning US journalist and his German girlfriend represents the red thread through the book. Her family is mixed in with the plot. The description of day-to-day life gives the story reality and perspective. People do a lot for a package of cigarettes.
The story unfolds slowly, a hushed-up murder, and many dead-end leads. But things turn out to be a lot more complex as you go: more deaths and threats, intrigue and false allies. And the tension grows. It is a thriller after all: a thriller with political messages as well as interesting character developments.
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